My thanks to all the Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Idaho with whom I interacted this summer. It was truly my pleasure to work with you to further your community message and to create greater awareness. I enjoyed doing something different with each of you--from a quiet dinner meeting to doing a TV and press interview to being part of the 4th of July parade in Buhl to helping ReStores get attention to meeting with boards to offering my ideas to a board that wants to grow with new ideas. It was fun to meet each of you along the way, and I hope to see many of you again if I'm in your part of Idaho. My goal was to help you create a little more buzz about what good you do in your local service area, and if we did that, and/or recruited some volunteers or raised some money, I'm satisfied.
I'd like to offer some of my reflections on the bike ride itself. Not a day goes by that I don't think of the experience in some way. Lots of times I remember distinctly where I was on the ride, the weather, the road conditions, how I felt, and the mental ticking off of miles yet to go. People asked me then as well as now if it was "fun." As time goes by, it is tempting to take the easy way out and say "yes." However, it was most of all a lot of work that was rewarding--not fun. I really did enjoy the experience, but doubt that I'll do another month-long ride. The weeds grew too much while I'm gone, and there are always things that need some attention. That said, I'm planning a week-long ride with my wife, Linda, and our daughter, Jennifer, in north Idaho this summer.
What were some of my landmarks? Doing over a 1,000 miles was cool--1055 exactly. Riding 23 days straight before I took a day off at my daughter's in CDA was significant. Riding for the first time with bike clips shoes and NOT falling over one time was noteworthy. Covering every inch of the ride with my bike tires--I may have walked up hills, but my tires covered every inch of the way. Starting and finishing on my schedule satisfied the navigator in me, and maintained my reputation for organization and punctuality. Riding for nearly one month on some narrow stretches of highway in ID and not seeing ONE single accident--I did not see any on my hike of WA three years earlier either. Having only a couple of close calls with inattentive drivers. Riding along with several of the affiliates to get to my next destination. Meeting tons of really nice people, which reaffirms my opinion that Habitat is filled with great people no matter where you go.
Since I got home in late July, I've been immersed in the job of getting our Store up and running. We opened in August and are doing fine so far. At least we are paying our bills and making a profit, too. I work many hours on the Store Advisory Committee and drive the truck to do pick ups of materials. On August 1st, our Executive Director (a longtime friend of Tom Lay) fell off a ladder and hurt himself badly. While he was recuperating, the Board hired me to fill in for him to make sure grants got submitted, bills got paid, and to generally run the affiliate with lots of other volunteers helping. We are doing OK, and just got word that we will be a Thrivent Build in 2010, which is great. Lots of other things going on show promise, so I'm keeping busy. Our ED will be back to full time in about a month, so I go back to being a volunteer. I know I'll keep busy.
If any of you are over in Skagit County--for the Tulip Festival every April?--please look us up at our Store and affiliate offices. The chances are I'll be there. Conversely, when I get back to Idaho, I'll look forward to seeing you and hearing about the initiatives you have going on. My best wishes to you all, and Merry Christmas.
Jim "Duff" Duffied